How Leadership Training Works

What does it take to stand out and be a leader?
What does it take to stand out and be a leader?
Yuri Arcurs/©iStockphoto

Are all great leaders born, or do they learn on the job? While there are a few notables apparently gifted with the right tools for outstanding leadership, most of us need some help to bring out the best in ourselves and those we supervise. Many organizations are turning to leadership training to help foster best practices among management. This training often takes the form of workshops and seminars designed to educate managers in the tactics and skills necessary to be effective leaders. Stronger, more effective managers provide a solid backbone for the organization, leading to higher employee retention, a more productive work force and long-term investment in the company's future [source:].

What does a good leader look like? Certainly not all leaders are the same, but there are some key characteristics that provide a common thread. The Harvard Business School Bulletin published an article on the subject in 2001. Notable alumni and faculty of the prestigious program ruminated on the necessary traits. The panel agreed that being an inspiring visionary is important, but equally so is the ability to organize and manage a workforce. Too much of one or the other can lead to a lackluster or destabilized organization.

Communication and honesty are two other key characteristics highlighted. Being open and direct with your subordinates means that you're making your needs clear. You're also listening to their needs. Being honest with your team is important. Covering up bad news to in an attempt to protect your subordinates -- or to deflect blame from yourself -- will only make the situation worse in the end, even if it cushions the blow in the short term. But being open about mistakes that you or the organization have made can inspire your workers to help fix the problem.

Good leaders must also be adaptable. Organizations change as a result of both internal and external factors, and it's imperative that a leader be malleable enough to make a changing situation work. A manager who is unable (or unwilling) to re-examine priorities and tactics in the face of a changing environment will only succeed in damaging the organization.

Creativity plays a big role in becoming a successful leader, according to the Harvard Bulletin. "Thinking outside the box" is a phrase that's been overused in the last few decades, but it really does make the difference when it comes to success in business. A good leader will think creatively, looking for solutions that use the same tools but garner better results [source: Harvard Business School Bulletin].

So what kind of training does it take to be a leader?